Monday, May 30, 2011

Working like a dog?

As my teacher summer inches closer and closer (only 20 more to go!), I am eagerly anticipating my 2 1/2 months of vacation.  Since I will be working during the summer months to earn some extra money, I will probably only have 1 full month of vacation time.  Boo hoo, I know.  The thing is, here, 1 month of vacation is oh-so-common.  Then, a friend sent me this article she had seen on and it's title 'Why is America the 'no-vacation nation?' caught my eye.  It is true, I have a ridiculous amount of holiday time, but that's just like any teacher.  But the catch is here in Spain, each employee normally gets about 36 days of work off a year. 

The CNN article notes that America is one of the only nations that doesn't mandate requiered vacation time.  Whereas, in some industrialized nations, up to 6 weeks is required and must be taken!  Seems like France, Brazil and Finland really know how to enjoy thier free time!  In Spain, with vacation time and public holidays combined, 36 days is the average holiday time each worker gets.  On top of that, while taking long weekends from time to time, most people I know who are blessed with 3 or 4 weeks of vacation take it all in one swoop!  For example, Joseba gets the entire month of August off, as do many people.  Travelling to Spain August I imagine would be somewhat of a surreal feeling - because most of the Spainards are gone - on vacations of thier own. 

In the States however, it seems we are workaholics.  When I worked in NYC, I was at the bottom of the totem pole so I only got 1 week of vacation a year, plus paid holidays (which are only about 10 days).  At the company I worked for you, you could basically  max out your vacation at 3 weeks.  Never more.  The people who I worked with who had earned such long holidays, rarely took them all at the same time though.  The article points out that Americans are afraid to take such a long vacation because they 1) don't want to look like they aren't dedicated to thier jobs and 2) don't want to come back to such a backpile of work.  Or if they do take a whole week (GASP), they are probably constantly checking thier work email or making phone calls from the beach. 

It's obvious that vacations give you time to relax and re-charge your batteries, which is great for when you go back to work, so why don't we take it all?  When I had about 2 months with NO work last year, I thought it was great...for the first few weeks.  But then, maybe because I am American, I get bored.  I feel like I am being unproductive and need to do something!  Maybe we are just wired that way.  But the thing is, paid vacation time is an excuse to relax - have the whole day to do nothing!

Either way, I have come to appreciate long weekends and month-long holidays.  I have learned to relax better and also that just because I have vacation time doesn't neccesarily mean I have to GO somewhere.  Living 2 blocks from the beach and a few steps from the mountain,  I can take advantage of any time off right here in San Sebastian!  So, here it is, almost June.  Have you used any of your paid vacation?  Have you used ANY of it?!  Do it!  You deserve it.  I will hold on to my 20 more days of full-time work, then one month of part-time work and will make sure to enjoy my days off to the fullest - as should you! 


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